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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sammy tell us about her experience in Best Buddies...

             As we only have one month left, it seemed fitting for my blog entry to reflect on our time so far here in La Paz and our work with Best Buddies. This is also fitting because unluckily, for the past two weeks I have been plagued with random and wonderful illnesses, so, my blog entry will have to be more general due to my inability to take part in all the activities but I do know that the amazing work the Best Buddies team has been doing over the cohort continued as usual.

            In La Paz, there is never a normal day; it is the most amazing, out of this world and craziest place I have ever been. There are many reasons for this, in particular, my team and my project, Best Buddies. Without a doubt, Best Buddies is one of the best, if not the best, project on the ICS programme in Bolivia. Not only do we get to work with the buddies three days a week, my favourite part, we also get to take part in campaigns which promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in Bolivia. Our biggest campaign, which we started just over two weeks ago, was for the San Jose center near Santa Cruz. The center is home to babies, children and young adults with disabilities; the center is amazing and takes great care of all who lives there. Our campaign involved us raising funds to send the center essential items, such as, rice, toothpaste and soap. Raquel, our team leader, had an idea that instead of asking people solely for donations, we could buy all the items that we wanted to send to the center and ask people to buy an item to send. This idea worked brilliantly and on our second stall day we managed to sell all the items!
           
            Sometimes, I, and the rest of my team, have been debating whether or not we are actually making a positive difference with our work. Nobody was kidding when they said you would feel like a drop in the ocean. But, one Action Friday, our doubts diminished. During an activity, Carolina, a Bolivian volunteer and a Best Buddy, spoke to a group of volunteers from all projects about how thankful she was for Reuben, Joe and myself and the work we had been doing. Immediately, that drop in the ocean doesn't feel all that insignificant. Unfortunately, the nature of volunteering means that often times, it is hard to see what impact you are making but it is important to remember that you are a piece of a very large puzzle that is trying to fix a very real problem; a small piece does not mean nugatory. Once Carolina thanked us, it became very apparent that each little bit we do with Best Buddies helps move towards the greater goal, towards the inclusion of every person with disabilities, as in Bolivia, there is still a lot of barriers and attitudes that affect people with disabilities every day, and I would rather be helping in any way I can with this than doing nothing at all.



            Best Buddies is aiming to change attitudes and the lives of people with disabilities and I am so glad that I got to be apart of this charity and help them with their hugely crucial cause. I am also so glad that I got to do it with such a great team; probably the most diverse group I have ever worked with. Ill never tell my team that I like them in person so theyll just have to settle for this blog. We have Raquel, our team leader aka mother of the group, who is so incredibly nice and takes occasional joy in making fun of me. Then theres Tita, a Bolivian who is actually a gringo who makes us all laugh with her attempt at speaking English, she's also a really good person so I guess thats why we sort of like her. Cece is one of the few people who can constantly put up with Joe and I, and we love her for it. Kimmy is never not smiling, literally, the happiest human being you will ever meet. Eve (aka Erik 2.0) is the sweetest of the group, not a bad bone in her body and I am so glad she joined the team, it wouldn't be the same without her! Reuben is the boring one who we forget is there a lot of the time just kidding, hes an all round  great guy with a funny laugh. And finally, but by no means least, we have Joe; the confused guy who is actually a genius and one of my favorite people in Bolivia, he makes us all laugh, sometimes on purpose, sometimes just by being him, but we love him for it. A weird and glorious group but they are some of the funniest and most genuine people I will probably ever meet, and I will be very sad to leave them at the end of August.

            My time here has been like nothing I have ever experienced. The place and especially the people are one of a kind. Hopefully, my last month will be as amazing as these last 6 weeks and the work will continue to be challenging but worthwhile.





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